31 August 2008

The Sydney Finale - the Bridge Climb and the Opera House

OK...thanks for sticking in there...this is it...the end of the Sydney narrative. The highlight of the trip was taking part in the Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb. Since 1998, it has been possible to fork over a stupid amount of money and climb the Bridge, which took eight years to build (1924-1932).

We gladly did this and it was worth every single dollar. What an amazing experience! At the top of the Bridge, you are afforded 360 degree views of Sydney and its environs. We could see all the way out to the Blue Mountains the morning we made our ascent. It's an awesome three and a half hours. They don't fool around though - lots of instruction, reassurance, and a breathalyzer test all for good measure. They also don't allow anything even resembling your own camera on the climb. No way, no how are you getting your own camera up there, no matter where you hide the thing. Which explains why I have no pictures of us climbing or from the top o'the Bridge for you (you can get a snippet of the experience by clicking on the link at the start of the post). They do, however, take a slew of pictures of you while on the climb. You do get one group photo for free and then as you walk through the Gift Shop (they took very good notes from Disney) at the end of the ride, you see all the other pictures they took of you. It's wicked hard to say no to at least one. We did buy one, but our stupid, lame scanner is not working, so no posting of that photo. I am completely serious in saying that this is something you should not miss! We had such a good time and will have memories forever about our climb. If you do go, see if you can get Max as your Climb Guide. He was ours and he's great. Studying several languages right now so he can one day work at the UN. He's ready now, if you ask me.

Now, a last word about Sydney's other world-renowned icon, the Opera House. Call me blasphemous, but when you get close to it, it just screams 'Mike Brady School of Architecture.' It is quite a testament to the late 60's/early 70's architechtural style, which is to say, yikes. From a distance, it's stunning, but when you get up close...it's like "Butterface," but for a building. RE "butterface," if you have to ask...email me. Here's some long views of the building:

When you get close, you find out that the roof is covered, and I mean COVERED, in thousands of mosaic tiles. Who even knew?! See what I mean:

We did learn that a much-needed renovation of the Opera House interior is about to begin. They'll be spending something north of $700 Million AUD to bring it into the new Millenium...apparently nothing much has changed since it opened in 1973. Ouch.

Australia was simply amazing. We had a great, great time. It was wonderful to spend a week with Shari. We laughed a lot and just shared a lot of precious time together. Count your blessings, though, as it spared you from some posts about the Clintons' behavior at the DNC as well as McCain's wild, patronizing pick of Sarah Palin for VP. Suffice to say, the Mitt-ites aren't a happy bunch. Just take a look at the handiwork of Mike Luckovich from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and his take on Mitt's reaction. Brilliant.

Sydney Highlights - Round Tres

Home stretch here people - see the earlier posts to get caught up on the Sydney saga so far.

Sydney is chock a'block with cool galleries and museums. We spent an evening in the Art Gallery of New South Wales - they have a remarkable collection of Chinese art that was really interesting to see.

We also spent some time at the Museum of Contemporary Art, which I've decided I just don't get - contemporary art, that is. Cool building in Circular Quay though.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention more of the food we got to sample while in Sydney. Amazing stuff. The crowning event for me was getting Shari to try kangaroo, which she gamely did (no pun intended, either!). Granted, it was only a little and it was on a pizza, but she tried it. We ate at this great little place in the Rocks called the Australian Hotel and that's where I ordered a kangaroo pepper pizza. It was awesome! Check out the link to the Hotel...we ate outside and soaked up a lot of character. It's a really fun place.

While we were walking around the Rocks, Shari sampled mango ice cream and really liked it:

I was delighted to see that my obsession with the cupcake could be fed, even more than 9,000 miles from Chicagoland. I bought a strawberry vanilla cupcake at the place pictured below. It was really, really good-the cupcake.

On our last night in Sydney, we met a friend of mine who recently moved to Melbourne from Hong Kong and was in Sydney for business and we had a most amazing dinner at a restaurant in Circular Quay that has been consistently ranked at the best in Sydney - the Quay. To say that it was amazing would be an understatement. It's already been rated Sydney's best restaurant for 2009 and it's only August 2008. You have to click on the link to the restaurant to take in their menu. Words cannot adequately describe this place. From the views to the food, it was all perfection. The mud crab congee that I started with was beyond incredible. I can't say enough about it, other than to tell you to go there. Fantastic. Simply fantastic.

Sydney Highlights - Round Dos

Having survived my first full Sunday as a member of the bishopric here in Chicagoland (note to self-pack a cereal bar or something in the Church book bag!), it's time to post just a bit more about our fiesta in Sydney.

Shari was quite a trooper, agreeing to attend one of the two days of the conference I was at - the NBTA AsiaPacific Annual Conference. We rode out to the site of the 2000 Summer Olympic Games for the conference. The venue was in the stadium where the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of those games were held. It's now called the ANZ Stadium. Here are a couple of shots:

We took these during the "behind the scenes" tour of the Stadium that we got to take. The Stadium is primarily used for Rugby Union games, Rugby League games, cricket matches, and some Australian Rules Football, or AFL, games. It was cool to see the inner workings and to also see some of the remnants of the Olympics. We even made it on to the Gold Medal stand:

Now before this becomes a painful slide show, reminiscent of the ones your spinster aunts made you sit through of their trips to see Great Aunt Esther after her hip replacement, hang in there, just a few more pictures!

After my conference responsibilities ended, Sydney was ours to explore. Some of the highlights included making it to the suburb of Carlingford to attend a session at the Sydney Temple:

Gracias to the weak American dollar, that trip to the Temple was a $150USD cab ride roundtrip. Ouch!

We explored Darling Harbour and Chinatown via the Sydney Ferry and managed to get a picture of ourselves riding the ferry:

Chinatown was awesome. I found a dumpy bakery where I was able to by pork bao and eggtarts. I was completely content. It kept my mind off the Bridge Climb....we got a picture of what we would be doing while we were on the ferry:

More on the Bridge Climb in the next post -

30 August 2008

Sydney Highlights - Round One

Before I get rolling on the highlights of our trip to Sydney, I first have to shout "Go Cougars!" BYU won their season opener against Northern Iowa this evening, 41 - 17. It wasn't pretty for the Cougars (some unpleasant mistakes were made), but they won, and NI's QB, Pat Grace, deserves some kind of medal for the punishment he took in the game.

Enough of that...let's get it out there right now...Sydney now ranks as one of my favorite cities in the world. There, I've said it. In short, we had a fantastic trip - a wonderful week-long getaway for Shari and me.

I won't bore you with the details of the flights, other than to say that they were long; I slept for most of the long legs to Sydney, even in Mother United's old Business Class seats; Shari watched several chick flicks and all the flights were on time. Except for the flight to Sydney - delayed so that they could hand each of us a bottle of water as there was no potable drinking water on the airplane and then there weren't enough meals loaded for the folks in Economy. Oh and I'd also like to point out that Shari's run of not flying Economy internationally remains unbroken.

We arrived in Sydney last Sunday morning, bright and early, and were met by the director of NBTA Asia Pacific, Karen Davies, and her husband, Bruce. They were so cool to meet us and take us on a drive around Sydney. They were great - especially when you consider we went straight from twenty hours of flying to their car - we had a serious case of the "Boeing stink," I'm sure, but they were wonderful to us. We got to see Sydney from the local's point of view. I'll let pictures do the talking now:

We'd been off the plane about an hour when we took the above picture, with Sydney in the background.

Above is a view from the bluff we were on.

Then we headed over to Manly Beach for breakfast. Take a look at the following pictures and tell me what season it is:

WINTER! This is winter in Sydney. Umm...after two heinous winters in Chicagoland, sign me up for this kind of winter any day of the week!

We then wound up in Sydney itself and took in our first close-up views of the famed Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. In a word, breathtaking:

We capped our tour of Sydney with our friends by going to Harry's for a meat pie. I'd liken it to the Australian version of In-n-Out. I could not have been more delighted that we were there.

Shari got an original, including a mash of peas on top:

Harry's was outstanding. Loved it. I got a curry meat pie and it was all kinds of excellent. After getting a taste of Sydney, it was off to the hotel - the Four Seasons Sydney. Can I just tell you that we LOVE that hotel?! As we poured out of Karen's car, the bellman greeted us by name. Now, that was pretty cool. Although when you think about it...these guys are so well-versed in guest relations, and they knew that these two Americans were going to be checking in after a wicked long flight, but man are they good. So when we got out of the car, looking like refugees out of some B-grade disaster movie, it probably didn't take a genius to guess who we were, but just the same, it was a sweet move. The entire staff made us feel welcome the entire time we were there. Our room had stunning views of the Opera House and the Bridge. We were most lucky to be there for the week. If ever you stay there, make sure you stay in one of the Executive rooms, so you can meet Jane, the manager of the Executive Club. She is an absolute delight. The concierge, Jorge, and Luke, from his team, are awesome as well. We felt at home the entire week - and that sums up Sydney. It felt like home, and I don't mean that in the sense that it felt like the US. It just felt comfortable and like somewhere you'd like to be.

More pictures to come -

29 August 2008

Leg 4: SYD-ORD The Return

It's Friday afternoon, I think, and we are back in the United States. Sitting in the Red Carpet Club at San Francisco Airport waiting for our flight back to Chicagoland. My apologies in advance for the lack of posts while we were in Australia. Our hotel did not have free wireless internet access and there was NO WAY I was going to pay $28.00AUD per day for the opportunity. Nor was I going to cart the laptop all over Sydney in search of a wi-fi spot. So no postings while we were away. Suffice to say, we had an amazing trip. Lots to tell and pictures to show so expect some things this weekend. Right now, we are looking forward to getting home and getting cleaned up. We've been up since 3:00PM Thursday afternoon and we both have the dreaded "Boeing Funk" going on. All who have spent more than three hours on a plane are painfully aware of this condition. A good shower will take care of that!

22 August 2008

Leg 1: ORD-SYD Underway!

Greetings from the new Red Carpet Club on Concourse B at O'Hare. We are underway! And our flight still shows on-time! It wasn't looking that way earlier today. It was steamy this morning and when I ran at 530AM, the air was thick. It made it all kinds of hard to cool down after said run. By 1PM, the skies couldn't hold back anymore and the dumping began. My heart sank.

For those of you familiar, either by choice or by painful experience, with O'Hare on a summer afternoon with a few thunderstoms, you know that it is nothing less than heinous. And when it started raining, visions of a misconnect to Sydney filled my head. The FAA website became my best friend so I could monitor delays at ORD. After about an hour of raining, it stopped and the sun came out. No call from United to advise of a delay, so we headed to the airport.

And here we are...no line at the Global Services check-in area. Straight to the head of the line at Security, and I found myself making a conscious effort to not run through the airport. I'm walking at Shari's pace...she even noticed. All a part of the early 20th wedding anniversary gift. We'll see if it lasts. I'll just be happy if I can get through our connecting point tonight without running!

Loving the free wireless at the airport (props to United for making it free in all their Red Carpet Clubs!) - looking forward to posting while we are Down Under.

21 August 2008

The Amazing Race Returns

Mark your calendars, fire up the TiVo or the DVR, brothers and sisters, because the greatest show on television (and I say that without a hint of hyperbole) returns on September 28th...."The Amazing Race" is back! This is fantastic news, plain and simple. I could go on for days about why this show rocks, but I can't afford the time tonight. We are less than 24 hours away from our own departure for Down Under and bags need to be packed, things need to get done.

So look for the occasional update - my plan is to post a couple of times while we are in Sydney. Ahh..the beloved meat pie...just a a couple of days away!

20 August 2008

The Dems in Denver...a coming coup d'etat?

While my head has been spinning since the events of this past Sunday, I have found some time to give some thought to what is shaping up to be a potential coup d'etat on American soil. And frankly, in a democratic society like ours, that's a rarity. But whenever you get the Bride of Satan involved, can anything surprise?

Next week as the lovely Shari and I will be enjoying the last of winter Down Under, our nation's Democrats will be meeting in their national convention. Buckle up, people, because this is where it's going to get really interesting. Why? Because Obama caved to the Clintons and their band of Clintonistas. Shrillary, after finally throwing in the towel on her heinous campaign, has kept her yap closed, at least publicly, about how wrong it is that she didn't sew up the nomination. She's even made a tepid, at best, public endorsement for Obama and made a couple of "statements" about party unity. Meanwhile, she and her modern-day band of Gadianton robbers, have been working tirelessly behind the scenes to secure her some kind of marquis spot at the convention. And boy have they done it. I don't even want to fathom the deals that have gone down or how many people that still had a modicum of a soul left sold them in order to get her the place she so badly covets.

Well, whatever they've done has worked. Obama caved and Shrillary has a keynote speaking position and gets a public roll call vote. In her words, that will help to heal. Apparently in the Clintonista lexicon, "heal" is defined as ripping apart at all costs to get what you want. Glad she never had to take a bandage off me. The skin would have been ripped off to the bone! Anyway, undoubtedly, they'll use this roll call to do something...like I said, buckle up, because here comes the coup d'etat. Obama really blew this.

So departure for Sydney is less than forty-eight hours away. Let's hope that Mother United does not decide to eliminate complimentary meals on the transpac flights before Friday, like they've just done on flights to Europe out of Washington DC. An epic bad decision. Epic. Nevertheless, it's just about time for the vacation/early anniversary celebration to get underway. It really is time to go!

17 August 2008

You're in the what?

It's appropriate today to point readers of the "den" to a link on our church website. In doing so, I hope you'll indulge me and allow a bit more personal post tonight. The link will also help those that are not members of the Church when they hear me say that I have been called to serve in a bishopbric. Hence...you're in the what?

Local leaders in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints are part of a lay clergy and so it's something outside of, or in addition to, your professional life. Today I was called to serve, or be a part of the lay clergy in our church, as second counselor in the Bishopbric of the Naperville 1st Ward (ward is akin to a local parish). I find myself humbled, honored, and excited by the opportunity. I'll be serving with great people and more importantly serving great people within our ward. What better way to grow closer to God than serving His children...

The timing of this calling was sweet. Sarah arrived home last night from her summer term at BYU. So she was in Church today and my dad flew up Saturday night as well to be a part of this event in our family's life. I could not have been more honored to have him here. I'd do well to follow his example of service more and more.

I suspect, no, I know, that this is going to be a tremendous learning experience for me and one that will benefit my family enormously. I'm excited to see what this brings as I am challenged to grow, improve, and serve. I find myself remembering the days when I was a young missionary and when it was second-nature to be humble-always ready to be taught. It's a great way to receive insight and teaching from our Father.

It's also going to be incredibly busy. So what's the first thing I do? Leave the country. Nice. Australia is five days away. All kinds of excited about that!

15 August 2008

So the yellow light means something here...who knew?!

When we first moved to Chicagoland two years ago, we quickly learned that the yellow traffic light was merely a suggestion...and based on the evidence we saw, it was a suggestion to speed through that light at all times and at all costs. Yellow lights here are extraordinarily long and so you get lulled into a sense of complacency, especially when it comes to turning left. Well tonight that complacency bit me squarely on the backside.

We had no kids tonight. CAL and PTL went up one of the northern 'burbs with friends and SAL flies home tomorrow. So after grilling up the last of the amazing steak that we got last week and enjoying some mashed sweet potatoes, I suggested going into downtown Naperville for a bit of a walk around. We are enjoying such amazing weather and the moon was full tonight, it seemed appropriate to go for a walk. That's when things went south.

I soon found myself the last car in a line of three turning left. I shouldn't have accelerated but I did and had I seen the police officer, I would have held back (OK...maybe I think I would have held back). However, the Swedemobile compelled me and I turned. As I did, I saw the police cruiser and within five seconds, the back of the Swedemobile was awash in flashing blue and red lights.

I knew there was no point in trying to weasel my way out. The officer could not have been more pleasant, even complimenting me on my unblemished driving record. He did, however, have to give me a ticket. He said it was because of our governor's decision to eliminate the "Warning" option for certain traffic violations. Don't think for a second that Governor Blagejovich (FYI-only Donald Trump has more description-defying hair) did this for the safety of the citizens of Illinois. It's a pure revenue grab, plain and simple. Because you can pay the fine and get out of points if you stay out of "trouble" for ninety days. Clearly this is the path I am going to follow...last thing I need is points. My insurance company would love that.

Anyway, I have to give credit to the officer tonight. He really was cool about it. If the Naperville PD did a customer satisfaction survey, he'd score highly.

14 August 2008

It just gets more and more interesting....life

Somewhat contemplative this evening. Perhaps it's because, thanks to web- and teleconferences, I spanned the globe today. I began the day at 530AM with a call with colleagues in London and Hong Kong and ended the day with a call with colleagues in Sydney (and I'd like to point out that the Sydney vacation clock is ticking - eight days until departure). And then it's been all-Olympics, all the time today, and this whole week, and you see how small are world is as athletes from across the globe face off.

Realizing that I'd spanned the globe a couple of times today via technology got me to thinking about what an incredible world this is and how we are guilty of taking it for granted. Further, I continue to be amazed at how the hand of our Father in Heaven is so present in our lives. And yet, we take that for granted too. I am reminded tonight of just how present His hand is. It is simply amazing. I realize He knows our inner-most thoughts. Life just doesn't play out randomly. Things happen and don't happen because of a living Father in Heaven. To quote a familiar hymn, I stand all amazed.

12 August 2008

I'll take Manhattan

And I'll take Manhattan all day on Wednesday. Day trip to New York City. One of those mad dashes from the airport to the Town Car to the office and six hours of meetings and back to the airport, so I can then wait on the tarmac for several hours. It will be awesome, I'm sure. I won't know what to do with myself if my flight home is on time...

It's quiet here in the Chicagoland suburbs tonight. PTL and CAL are at a Mutual Activity and Shari's all kinds of busy preparing her Sharing Time for Sunday and I find myself once again captivated by NBC's coverage of the Olympics. After the soul-crushing Opening Ceremonies (if I saw one more flag I was going to lost it-which is why I turned it off) on Friday night, I really didn't want to watch anymore of the Games. All it took was watching one of the swimming heats and that was it. Hooked again and that's been all we are watching. There really is something about the athleticism being displayed. But is it bad to admit that while watching the womens' bike race on Sunday, which played out in the pouring rain, I found myself hoping for a crash. Yeah, that probably does sound bad, huh?

10 August 2008

Stress Relief = Food, Good Food

Sundays can be stressful, especially in Mormon households. This fact didn't dawn on me until I hit the mission field. Sundays as a missionary in the Florida Ft. Lauderdale Mission in Miami in the mid-80's were nothing short of uncontrolled chaos - racing to get to church, where we'd spend the day, hoping folks would show up, filling in for whatever the local leadership needed, and just contending with the lunacy that was Miami in those days. I chewed aspirin like breath mints. Honestly, it's a wonder more of us didn't have strokes, but I suppose that's why we go on missions when we are 19 and 20. I was always so relieved when Sunday was done...today kind of felt that way. I taught my first lesson in the HP group and I was more than a little intimidated. And it was no walk in the park topic either. So I'd gotten up early to review it and it had me stressed. I do have to give props to our good friend Elaine for taking some of the edge off when in Sunday School (a slew of us are currently attending the Marriage/Family Relations class, aka Remedial Parenting) she broke down the word 'assume.' As in you know what happens when you assume...if you don't know, you figure it out. I literally applauded her. It was an outstanding move, one that would have impressed even J. Golden Kimball.

So coming home from Church meant an opportunity to decompress and relieve some stress. I've always found food to be a great stress reliever. However, since embarking on the Great Weight Loss Adventure '08, actually mowing through a heap of food to relieve stress has lost some serious appeal. And that, my friends, is where the Web has gotten to be all kinds of good. I can turn to a couple of websites and blogs, and I all kind of food happy. So I thought I'd share a few of my favorites today:

CHOW - I love this site. Great way to find place to eat and the boards are awesome. Scored some great ideas about dining for our trip to Sydney in a couple of weeks.
Naughty Curry - I recently stumbled onto this site and it's a lot of fun. All things curry, all things good.

Asian Food - This blog is simply stunning. The photography alone is gallery-worthy. I want to be these people and go everywhere they go!
Burritos - Seriously, a blog dedicated to the burrito. It doesn't get much better than a killer good burrito.
Chinese Food - another amazing blog with cool photography. It's a feast for the senses.
Mormon Foodie - we are way more than the shredded carrot green Jello salad, people.
Orangette - the gold standard of food blogging. She's a gifted writer.
Pastry - is there anything better than a pastry? This one could gladly cause me gain back more than a few pounds.

So there you have it...a little more insight (probably more than you wanted) into my world. I'm telling you, though, perusing these sights does the mind all kinds of good. Stress...get the hence!

09 August 2008

Digging the Midwest Summer

This Saturday was one of those days that makes me really like, even love, living in the Midwest. All in all, this summer has not been all that bad from a heat and high humidity perspective and today was pretty darn amazing. I don't think we ever got out of the low 70's and while there wasn't a ton of sunshine, the humidity was way low, even after a thunderstorm with a nice dump of rain earlier this afternoon.

It was cool enough this morning to not feel daunted by doing a long run along the River Walk in downtown Naperville. I needed it as I had started my day at 745AM at the lab at the hospital to get my blood work down as a follow up to the physical fiesta earlier in the week. I thought to myself, 'Get there ten minutes before they open at 8AM.' Bad call - I forget that the elderly work on an earlier mode. I was 12th in line, behind all manner of canes and complaints about Medicare. So after waiting almost an hour before I got my blood drawn, my blood was boiling and I was never so glad to be gone and I went straight for a run. The long run flew by - I think it was because I was listening to the "This American Life" podcast. That program consistently delivers some of the most thought-provoking and funny programming out there. Ira Glass, the host, sounds like he probably got beat up a lot in high school, but if he did, man, is he ever serving up sweet revenge with the great program.

Anyway, after the run the day was looking great, so I decided to get steaks for dinner tonight and that I'd grill them over charcoal. Whole Foods just opened a new market and I went over there. It's an awesome new store and I wound up with some great sirloins, a Korean bulgogi marinade, veggie chips, and hot wasabi rice cracker, and an amazing bag of Rainier cherries. Have you tried these little slices of heaven yet? The Rainier cherry is pretty much close to perfection. DO NOT let the yellow color turn you off. They are wonderfully sweet and amazing.

So after the storm, the Weber got fired up and the charcoal set to glowing...

And while watching the Olympics out one eye and the steaks out the other, soon dinner was almost ready:

Didn't even bother to do a marinade tonight. Just grilled the steaks with a little grilling salt/herb mix. I did make a garlic herb butter (threw in some tarragon, rosemary and fresh parsley) to put on as the steaks came off the grill.

It's been a good night. And now we're watching the Olympics. The Opening Ceremonies just went on a little too long and even earlier today, I thought I was already in overload mode with the Games, but no more. We'll see if that sticks.

08 August 2008

Another Gift from the Clintons

Are Bill and Hillary Clinton the Energizer Rabbit of Politics, but the perverse version? Instead of "going and going and going" like the famed Rabbit, these two just keeping giving and giving and giving. And what is that? A legacy of lies and excuses and setting a framework that makes it perfectly fine for a politician to be able to use various different tools, especially language, to obfuscate serious errors.

Of course I refer to John Edwards' confession of his affair today. ABC News has got to be in hog heaven landing this exclusive. Now maybe they have hopes of at least showing up on the television ratings since they are going up against the Beijing Olympics' Opening Ceremonies tonight.

What can you say about Edwards? Mountains of descriptives come to mind but most are obvious - starting with hypocrite and moving on down. What is just so, so repulsive about this is how he has trotted his DYING wife, Elizabeth, out on countless occasions to talk about the strength of their relationship. When she was faced with a death sentence when her cancer came out of remission, by all accounts, she urged that he continue his campaign. And yet, he decides that having an affair was the way to go. His repulsive behavior is not exclusive, unfortunately, to the Democrats - plenty of pols on both sides of the party lines have behaved in a like manner. But you do have to look at his quotes in the news today to see that he tore a big ol' page out of the Clinton play book.

Edwards describes the affair as a "serious error in judgement." Really? As I see it, a serious error in judgement is more like running a yellow light in front of a police officer. Having an affair while your wife, who has stood by you through the death of one of your children, is riddled with cancer, goes way, WAY beyond a bad judgement call. And then he calls it a "liason." What a pansy....be a man and own up to what you did. This is pure Clinton speak....why am I hearing "It depends on what your definition of 'is' is?" all over again. Here's the thing, you can put makeup on a pig to pretty it up, but it's still a pig. Even NPR, NPR of all things liberal, is calling Edwards' political career dead in the water.

So let's see what's next for Edwards...perhaps an hour at the redemptive couch of Oprah? A weeping interview with Barbara Walters? Hopefully, he'll just go away. But since he's torn a page from the Clinton playbook, Edwards will most certainly soon appear on the lecture circuit, pulling down six figures speaking to audiences about his experiences. Fantastic...diefying yet another philandering liar. Gotta love the legacy of the Clintons...I don't think so.

05 August 2008

Physicals After 40

Today was a day that most people don't get all kinds of excited about for a host of reasons. However, when you are a man in your 40's (welcome to my world), this day takes on its own special kind of dread. Of course, I refer to the day you have to get your physical. Note that I did not mention "annual" physical. As best we can surmise, my last physical was about five, maybe four, years ago when we were still living in SoCal.

Had I any sense, I would have scheduled this little medical dream date in January when I decided to embark on my "Weight Loss Adventure '08." However, I didn't and so I found myself in the offices of Dr. Dorsey-Johnson at the Dupage Medical Group today.

Let me first say that my doctor rocks. This was the first time I saw her as a patient, although since she treats everyone in our family. I had met her during Shari's gall bladder purging fiesta last year as well as for various Parker visits - those who know the Boy know that said visits need no further explanation. Anyway, Dr. Dorsey-Johnson is great. She's got a wicked busy practice but she takes the time to listen, answer questions, and she's thorough. She tells you exactly what she's doing as she does it. So if you ever move to Chicagoland and need a good doctor, she is aces in our book.

Without going into agonizing detail, I got a clean bill of health. I'll be curious to see what the blood tests show though. There were a couple of key learnings and I feel I compelled to share them. First of all the EKG. See the picture below:

I, too, got all wired up just like this man today, including the leads on the ankles. There was one key difference and if you look at him lying comfortably on the gurney, you'll see that he is missing something that I am not. What is that? That would be chest hair. Although the nurse assured me it would be ok and that she'd get the leads where it wouldn't be so bad, umm...it was, well, a little rough when those leads got torn off. Key learning - I should have mowed a little of the grass as it were to make that a little less traumatizing. No wonder my BP was a little high on the second take! Now, the second key learning, when you are a male over 40 and presenting in good health, guess what sweet words you hear from your doctor...that's right, no need for the dreaded, dreaded exam until you are 50! And you know of what exam I speak. If you still don't, see the picture below for a reference:

Why is that the nurse looks so pleased to be snapping on those gloves?

Anyway, although they waited until the very last minute to deliver that heaping helping of good news and I still had to suffer a measure of rubber glove torture, I could not have been more pleased with how the appointment went. So based on my past pattern, I won't be in there for another four years. Works for me!

04 August 2008

Buckle Up, Dorothy!

We are getting absolutely hammered tonight by a wicked, wicked thunder and lightning storm. The city of Chicago is under a tornado warning and it's all kinds of mayhem here. Kudos to the Cubs fans at Wrigley tonight who refused to leave the stands when the tornado sirens went off...Cubs fans are die-hards in every single sense of the word. So what does mi familia choose to do? First, sit out on our front porch playing a new game - "Where is the lightning going to strike?" This genius activity was then followed by the next smart move - let's get in the car and go drive to Panera for a little dessert. All this was led by me - somehow I don't think I'm getting Father of The Year...I wanted to upload a picture of the storm debacle but stupid Vista is not cooperating...note my shock.

02 August 2008

Catching Up

It's only the 2nd of August and I already wish this month was nearly done - the lovely Shari and I leave for Sydney in 20 days (but, really, who's counting?).

So it's time to get caught up...as many of you know, in addition to my day job, I serve as Vice President of the National Business Travel Association and we just held our 40th conference - this time in Los Angeles. This has morphed into a global exposition and it really is an amazing thing. This year we had more than 6,400 people in attendance. I had to be "on" the entire time. Lots of smiling and hand-shaking. It was great to get reconnected, albeit briefly, with business partners and friends. While the leadership and board of the association is volunteer, we would be dead in the agua, as it were, without our full-time staff out of Washington DC. They did another INCREDIBLE job with this year's conference. They worked very closely with the good people of Los Angeles, Inc., to make it a great event. LA Inc was kind enough to host a pre-opening night meet and greet with the evening's talent last Sunday, Cindy Lauper. I was able to be a part of that event. It was fun to meet her. She's a delight in person - that speaking voice is the real deal - and puts on a very good show. We were in the NOKIA Theatre in the new LA Live area in downtown for her show and it's a cool venue.

Other highlights from the conference - a great Moroccan-themed dinner at the Hotel Figueroa; Craig Ferguson - a riot (watch the Late, Late Show!) I got the chance to speak in front of several thousand people, working the teleprompters for the first time. Kind of daunting, but got easier fairly quickly. I was backstage for that day with Alec Baldwin - an interesting cat. And that was the same day of the lovely earthquake - a nice 5.4 on the Richter scale to make the day interesting. You've never seen people haul out of a convention center like when it started rocking on Tuesday. I was in a meeting with some folks from Argentina and Brazil and I had to convince everyone not to high-tail it out of the place in Spanish and the little Portuguese that I could recall. Once things settled down, we had to convince a lot of people that it was cool to come back in, but we got it done. So it was quite the week for us.

I raced home Wednesday afternoon, arriving wicked late and was in meetings all day Thursday and then Friday it was out to Oregon, IL, to meet Parker for his last day at Boy Scout Camp. He'd been there for six days. When I got there, he was no worse for wear but was clearly ready to call it a week. The six boys in his troop are great boys and had had a really good week. My buddy, Jeff, is an outstanding Scoutmaster and I am really grateful for people like him that have it in them to do this. I don't - end of story. It was a cool night and we packed up first thing this morning and got the boys home by 1015AM. Now, let's talk about the sheer volume of dirty laundry. I am CERTAIN that based on the amount of mildew and stench that these boys are growing, dare I say culturing, a cure for cancer in their filthy socks alone. Parker's two bags full of laundry were nothing short of HazMat Level 4 toxic-see Shari below fully prepped to start going through the bags:

And the poor Odyssey...I brought all six boys home. Suffice to say, Shari's car was RANK by the time we got back to Chicagoland, so it was off to the car wash as soon as we got home and dumped Parker's toxic load o'stuff. With the Odyssey fully restored, we were able to press forward with our Saturday.

Courtney's back from Girl's Camp, Parker's back from Scout Camp, I'm back from LA, and Shari's one-week solo stint at home is over. It's good to have everyone back. It better be a quiet night.